McMullen's 1953 Corvette sells for $400,000 at auction

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McMullen '53 CorvetteRM Auctions just concluded their sell-off of part of the The McMullen Collection in Lapeer, MI. Besides a 1931 Duesenberg that went for $1.35 million (before the 10% auction fees), and a 1930 Cadillac V16 that drew a top bid of $960,000, one of the most spectacular lots was a near perfect 1953 Corvette Roadster. 1953 was the first year for Corvette production, and although the performance of these earliest 'Vettes was pretty pathetic, they are still quite desirable to collectors as the earliest examples of one of America's greatest sports car nameplates. This particular car was chassis number 157 (of the 300 units made in 1953) and sold for a mind-blowing $400,000.

The Corvette and 72 other collectible cars were once owned by Michigan car dealer, John McMullen. At 79, McMullen decided to part with just over half of his collection, and RM handled the sales. McMullen bought the '53 'Vette 12 years ago, just after it had undergone a Bloomington Gold restoration. Considering the estimate was only in the $125,000 - $175,000 range, the gavel price came as quite a shock. In fact, it was 33% better than the superb '53 we saw at Barrett-Jackson in January, which went for $298,350. Great car in the right colors and it just happened to have at least two bidders who really wanted it.

Thanks for the tip, Keith!

[Source: Corvetteblogger]


[via] Autoblog

More on the supercharged MTM Audi RS4

When we brought you AudiWorld's story on the MTM-tuned RS4, there were only two questions we had: how much and what's it sound like? Thankfully, European Car was able to get the first answer during their review, and after converting from euros to dollars, the MTM package will set you back about $26-large. The answer to the second part of our query came courtesy of AudiWorld themselves, who were smart enough to pack a video camera to shoot the K540 making its sub-four second run to 60, along with a few screaming supercharged passes by the camera.

AudiWorld's video is posted after the jump, and you can read European Car's review here.

Continue reading More on the supercharged MTM Audi RS4


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Intrepid Chinese make their own Jeep Wrangler

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Click the pic above to see a gallery

This faux Jeep gets a pass, because it comes out looking so close to the real thing, though Jeep faithful will likely pick it to pieces. Pieces is how the story begins, with a Bejing Jeep 2020 that has a tryst with a Sawz-all. Predictably, the 2020 gets all broken up after its torrid affair, and needs to be put back together. Two talented Chinese bodymen took up the mantle and reinvigorated this unloved, down and out conveyance.

The outcome sees the Jeep better than has ever been, which is the hope of anyone who ever partakes in an intervention, isn't it? While this facsimilie has been whipped up most of the way around the world, it's definitely got some Jeeper spirit going on. There's plenty of backyard-assembled CJs here in the homeland that don't look anywhere near as good as this totally fake Rubicon. Sure, the paint's not great (well, it does look shiny, that counts), and the mechanicals are a crapshoot, but the caution (and safety equipment) be damned attitude that these fellas show as they forge ahead and make something from nothing is true Jeep ethos. Besides, we'd much rather cruise the streets of China in the red faux Rubicon than the Chairman-Mao Green thing it started as. It's not the first time someone's made a replica out of a totally unrelated car, anyway. We're not generally fans of the practice, but we see the effort here and applaud the results.

[Source: China Car Times via Hemmings]


[via] Autoblog

REPORT: Toyota passed GM in '06 global sales

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Wuling Sunshine
Wuling Sunshine (above): The difference-maker? is reporting that Toyota may have already surpassed General Motors as the #1 automaker in terms of global sales... for 2006. Automotive News has released its annual sales totals, which put GM 128,000 units behind Toyota for last year. Until now, it was widely assumed that GM had retained its #1 spot.

The discrepancy can be traced back to China, where sales of a Wuling "breadbox" microvan were discounted from the GM total by Automotive News. The manufacturer, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., is 51% owned by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Automotive News credits sales to the majority owner of a given subsidiary, and as a result, the Wuling sales go to SAIC, not GM, and that is enough to give Toyota the top spot. The Detroit Free Press did an informative piece on the Wuling vans and the role they play in the rapidly-growing Chinese market for GM back in April.

According to CNNMoney, GM declined comment on the Automotive News report other than to confirm that it did internally count the sales AN excluded when it published its ranking yesterday. The complete CNNMoney report can be found here, and the Automotive News article can be found here (subscription required).

While the apparent flip-flop in rankings will likely have little to no effect on how anyone involved does business, it's got to irk folks at GM, even though Rick Wagoner and others are on record as saying that retaining the top spot is not a priority. #1 is #1, though. We're sure there'll be more on this in the coming days.

Thanks to Peter for the tip!

[Sources: CNN Money, Automotive News]


[via] Autoblog

In the Autoblog Garage: 2008 Ford F-450 Lariat King Ranch

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The first time we laid eyes on Ford's new F-450, we knew that we wanted to run one through the ringer. Intended to satisfy those customers who find traditional "one ton" dually trucks to be a bit too limiting, this massive vehicle pegged our more-is-better meter. The F-450 is, in fact, so big as to make the title of this post a complete misnomer, as it takes something more like a barn to house this much truck.

Continue reading In the Autoblog Garage: 2008 Ford F-450 Lariat King Ranch


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Barrett-Jackson and Russo and Steele battle over land in Scottsdale

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It's not even July and we're already talking about the Arizona auctions next January. It seems there may be a battle brewing over a 12-acre parcel of land that Russo and Steele and Barrett-Jackson both want. The Scottsdale property is adjacent to the current Russo and Steele auction site and has been partially used by Russo and Steele without permission in the past. It is also becoming a potential battleground for the two large auction companies. Russo and Steele is smaller and younger than Barrett-Jackson, but it has grown enough that it apparently spilled out of its leased land boundaries and onto the State-owned parcel in question. Russo is trying to renegotiate the use of this disputed land, but is running into unexpected competition. B-J is also looking into leasing the land for additional parking to accommodate big rigs and trailers that have filled their lots across the 101 at WestWorld.

Russo claims that Barrett-Jackson is intentionally trying to ruin their business by attempting to lease the needed land for themselves. Jackson says that they have no desire to run Russo and Steele out of business, but that R and S brought it upon themselves by using the land without permission in the past. The State Land Department will investigate both applications and decide who has the better claim. According to the Arizona Republic article, if that can't be determined, then the lease would be decided by a closed bidding process. With its much deeper cash reserves, that bidding war would undoubtedly go to Barrett-Jackson, but we'll have to wait and see what happens. We'll try to keep you posted.

[Source: The Arizona Republic]


[via] Autoblog

New view of Kubica crash as F1 goes after YouTube clips

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New video has emerged of Robert Kubica's shocking crash at Sunday's Montreal GP in which the 22-year-old Pole cheated death after hitting a barrier at 170 mph. This time around the camera is positioned at the opposite end of the hairpin from previous clips, and shows just how fast Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Kubica were going right before the impact.

You'd think after a crash like that Kubica's racing days would be over. Well, we're glad to report that he was released from the hospital the next day with only a slight concussion and a sprained ankle. We're told his first words to the doctor were "Can I race?", and that he even drove himself home after being given the a-OK.

Clips of the crash started showing up on YouTube within minutes and now Formula One management has started forcing YouTube to remove the offending material, which it claims violate copyright agreements. Fortunately, the opposite view of the crash we have after the jump appears to be taken by someone not affiliated with F1, and it remains on the video sharing site for now. Check it out after the jump.

Thanks for the tip, Keith!


Continue reading New view of Kubica crash as F1 goes after YouTube clips


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Spy Shots: Lexus LF-A

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Hans Lehmann does it again. The ace spy photog captured an undisguised Lexus LF-A prototype lapping the Nürburgring. Lehmann speculates that published images of the upcoming NSX replacement mule have prompted Lexus to let its star be seen too, so as not to fade from enthusiasts' memories. It looks an awful lot like the concept we've seen on the auto show circuit, with some minor tweaks. We're expecting to see this V10 supercar make its official debut in Frankfurt this September.

No word on lap times, but it should be pretty quick. This front-engined supercar is supposed to be powered by a 500-horsepower V10, but may end up as an advanced high-performance hybrid. Lexus executives have hinted that the LF-A could be the next F model to join their new performance line-up alongside the IS-F. They also said we'd see a new vehicle that would combine elements of both the LF-A and the FT-HS that had a hybrid drivetrain. Along with the Nissan GT-R and Acura NSX, the LF-A is marking a new era of Japanese high performance. The Japanese supercar wars are shaping up to be epic.

[Source: World Car Fans]


[via] Autoblog

Big Three discussing joint healthcare fund

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Recently, the UAW decided to look at the unusual step of taking over heathcare liabilities from the Big Three. The reason being that pension fund costs for future retirees is adding a terrific sum to the expense sheet every year -- GM's costs alone were $4.8 billion in 2006, and combined costs could have amounted to $12 billion. That's the price they are paying to assure healthcare for 2 million workers, ex-workers, and dependents. That drag on the bottom line is making GM, Ford, and Chrysler's return to competitiveness difficult, as if the job wasn't difficult enough already: the domestics lost $15 billion in '06, while Toyota, Honda, and Nissan made $23 billion.

In terms of total liabilities, the Big Three owe a combined $114 billion right now. The car companies have begun to discuss a fund, called a VEBA (voluntary employee beneficiary association) among themselves. They would proffer a one-time, lump sum payment, which would be a percentage of what they owe. After that, their contribution would be capped at a consistent rate that would keep them competitive. GM already uses VEBA's for some of its workers, and Goodyear set up a VEBA last year with $1 billion for the United Steelworkers, and has no further healthcare obligation.

A VEBA is just one option on the table, and neither side has said it will bring it up during labor talks. The discussion among the Big Three is in its initial stages, so company contributions have not even been determined yet.

[Source: Bloomberg]


[via] Autoblog

That'll buff right out: Chevy turns new Captiva into scratch off card

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Click the photo for a high-res gallery of the Captiva Scratch Car-d

We've all bought one of those "scratch and win" lottery cards at the convenience store before. Attacking that little piece of cardboard with a penny is a very satisfying experience, even if you don't uncover three cherries, two "$50" or a "New Ticket". Chevy in the UK had a bright idea to take that same scratch off experience and supersize it by turning an entire vehicle into a scratch off card. To introduce Londoners to the new Chevy Captiva crossover, the brand had an example of its new CUV on display coated with the same scratch off material and parked atop a pile of 16,995 pennies.

It took two months to cover the entire CUV and thousands of individual panels with the same latex material used on those scratch cards. It only took 14 hours of scratching, however, before someone uncovered the hidden winning panel and won the vehicle. Hopefully Chevy gave the winner a different Captiva than the one used in the contest, because penny scratches do not, in fact, buff out.

The event took place in Covent Garden in London, with the number of pennies obviously representing the Captiva's base price in British pounds. You can think of the Captiva as the entry level sibling of the better-equipped Opel Antara and our own Saturn VUE. Will the U.S. market then get the Captiva as replacement for the Chevy Equinox? If we're lucky.

Thanks to Mario for the tip!

[Source: AutoMotoPortal]


[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Nissan's affordable RWD sports car

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Last week we told you about Nissan's plan to revise the 350Z and add a new, smaller RWD sports coupe to its lineup. All of a sudden, pics of that smaller sports coupe have appeared today on the interweb. Winding Road has a few clear shots of an oddly shaped 350Z-based mule tagging along behind a Porsche Boxster. The car looks a lot like a 350Z, but is much shorter overall and has spy photographers speculating it will be the Z-car's baby bro'.

Whether a new Z-car, new 240SX or whatever, it's just a mule for now. The Urge Concept is said to be the inspiration for the shape of the new small sports coupe, so hopefully future prototypes will be wearing a body we can recognize as influenced by that concept. There's no word on a powerplant for this new coupe, but we've already voted for a turbocharged version of the SE-R Spec-V QR25DE motor, just in case Nissan is listening. Hopefully it will be rear-drive, as well, but that goes without saying on a car like this. Click the Read link or the pic to view a few larger photos of this odd mule.

[Source: Winding Road]


[via] Autoblog

Left Lane Drivers of America want you to Move Over. You know who you are

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A couple of years ago I was motoring down the highway at something above the speed limit, when I noticed in my rear view mirror that a Kenworth had snuck up on me. It's not easy for an 18-wheeler to sneak up on anything, but he was simply going so fast that one moment he wasn't there, and the next moment he was. The other surprising thing in the mirror, beyond that giant grill inches from my bumper, was a little sign just below the Kenworth logo that read "Move Over." Which I did. Quick smart.

Well, the "Move Over" movement isn't just for truckers anymore. It's gone mainstream with the Left Lane Drivers of America, whose mission it is "to get that left lane back!" from the slowpokes, cowpokes, and any other pokes who might be using it to do something other than pass the cars on the right. There are states where using the left lane only to pass is a law. However, like laws against jaywalking, it often, frustratingly, goes unheeded. Left Lane Drivers offers "Move Over" windshield stickers to let folks know what they need to do when you rock up behind them. It's even got an arrow so people know exactly where they're supposed to go. While we're all for anything to reduce road rage and the frustration of having to do 2 mph under the speed limit, we have a sinking feeling that might see it as more automotive bullying and drive even worse out of spite. Maybe a "Move Over Pretty Please With A Cherry On Top" sticker could work better?

[Source: Left Lane Drivers via Winding Road]


[via] Autoblog

Take my ad account, please! Ford puts job of marketing Focus up for grabs

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We would rather be tasked with reversing the downward tug of gravity than take on the ad account for the 2008 Ford Focus. The Blue Oval has announced that the account may not be handled by its usual agency, JWT Detroit, and that it's searching for a brave new agency to take on the daunting task of selling the redesigned Focus. JWT Detroit will bid for the account, but sources say Ford would like at least two outside agencies with fresh ideas to also compete for the job.

We were harsh on the 2008 Ford Focus mainly because the car's new styling leaves a lot to be desired. To be blunt, the designers turned the attractive styling of the original Focus that had survived a couple evolutions into a mess of creases, curves and fake vender vents the likes of which we haven't seen since the Saturn ION first arrived. Nevertheless, the new Focus will be significantly lighter than the outgoing model, which should help handling and fuel ecomony; the new SYNC interface developed with Microsoft is supposedly a serious piece of tech; and a coupe body style is being offered in place of the three- and five-door hatchback.

So the 2008 Ford Focus does have positive attributes on which an ad agency can focus its campaign. Nevertheless, it still looks the way it does, which any ad agency worth its weight in pop up ads knows will be extremely difficult to sell.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]


[via] Autoblog

Lightning Car Company to build 700HP all-electric GT

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click above image to view additional high-res photos of the Lightning GT

Lightning Car Company from the UK has created a new all-electric sports car called the GT that melds the front end of an E-Type Jag, the profile of a Marcos, and the back end of a TVR. Under the skin sits the same Altairnano batteries that power the Phoenix SUT and the PML wheel motors that power the 640-hp electric MINI. The Lightning GT, however, boasts up to 700 hp. Three models are expected to be offered including a luxury version, a lightweight sports version that can reach 60 mph in less than four seconds and an extended range model that can go the distance, as long as that's within 250 miles. The Lightning GT is expected to be available in 2008, though orders are being taken now. Is it a Tesla Roadster slayer? We've yet to see a green-minded coachbuilder tackle the development process with the same gusto and capital as Tesla, so while the GT's specs are impressive, we'll wait until AutoblogGreen actually drives one before taking away the Tesla's crown.

[Source: Lightning Car Company via AutoblogGreen]


[via] Autoblog

Fanboys in motion: Inside Line drives pre-op Bumblebee

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There's a movie coming out on July 4, 2007, and you might have heard of it. It's called Transformers. In case you haven't heard of it, it's about an epic battle between giant, impossibly sophisticated mutating robots fighting over the source of all life. One of those robots, Bumblebee, is a 1976 second generation Camaro -- an impossibly unsophisticated car. The movie will explain.

In the mean time, Inside Line got some wheel time with the slightly enhanced Autobot, who looks like he could have started his acting career as an extra in The Dukes of Hazzard. The original 4-cylinder was swapped out for a 350-hp 5.7-liter V8, but that and the other mods aren't outrageous, and don't really alter the fact that it's still a beat up old yellow Camaro. Actually, though, the car sounds like it'd be kinda fun -- especially the line locks. Inside Line has a bunch of pictures to go with, and while the '09 has a lot more obvious cool, the '76 looks like it has a lot more character. (No pun intended.) And it would need to -- Bumblebee hooks the lowly Shia up with uber-fox Megan. Let's see if you can do that with your yellow '76 Camaro.

[Source: Inside Line]


[via] Autoblog

Saturn dealers may offer "x-ray vision" to shoppers

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Yeah, the quotes around "x-ray vision" (there they are again) mean a whole lot. Advertising Age says General Motors is offering its Saturn dealers a new system that will let potential customers see what's underneath a Saturn's skin.

Unlike those old shoe-shop machines, there's no harmful radiation involved. In fact, the system is pretty much just a projector that overlays an image of the car's bones on top of the metal, making the body only seem transparent. The system can be set up to work with different models, so if a customer wants to see the unseen differences between a VUE and the new Outlook, the dealer can just wheel one or the other into the beam. Animation is also possible, and could be used to, for example, show how the Vue Green Line's hybrid engine works.

The technology comes from a company called Obscura Digital, which has worked with numerous other automotive companies. A video of their work with Saturn is available on their site, but is, unfortunately, not able to be embedded here. You'll have to click the link above to view it.

[Souce: Advertising Age]


[via] Autoblog

Automakers doggedly pursuing canine needs

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America is a nation of dog lovers. Sure, we may be guardians to more cats than dogs, but we will do things for our dogs that might seem silly to others and never give it a second thought. We even take them to the dealership when shopping for a new vehicle because we need to know Fido will be happy with his new chariot, too. In fact, this Tough Pups Gazette article quotes an American Kennel Club study that says nearly half of dog owners take man's best friend into consideration when buying a new car. And now we see that automakers are getting wise to our needs. The "Dog Lover" demographic is now an important one to many marketing agencies, and it's even making on impact on vehicle design.

Things like cargo room, interior materials, floor coverings, safety barriers, and even harnesses are considerations for dog-owning buyers, and automakers are taking notice. The article points out features in cars from Volvo, Subaru, Honda, and Chrysler that meet canine companion needs like steel barriers with plates to shield groceries in the hold, rubber or plastic mats and trays that can easily be hosed off, stain-resistant seat and carpet materials, or urethane that can be readily wiped clean. We can actually see a time in the not-too-distant future when dog-owner trim levels are offered. Honda Element Milk-Bone edition. Subaru Forester Eukanuba STi. Dodge Caliber Dog Chow R/T. Volvo XC90 Science Diet. Actually, there is already a huge canine car accessory market in the U.S., and Honda even offers a dog friendly trim level on its Vamos in Japan.

Thanks for the tip, Leo!

[Source: Tough Pups Gazette]


[via] Autoblog

Another Guinness World Record: Longest Contiguous Line of MINIs

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How many MINIs does it take to screw in a light bulb earn a world record? Apparently 273. Last Sunday, June 10, 273 MINIs old and new lined up at Virginia Beach and stretched over five miles to re-establish the record for the longest continuous line of MINIs set just last year. The parade of MINIs just edged the 269 cars that congregated in the UK last year. The tiny cars assembled and then drove along "in an uninterrupted chain more than 5 miles long!" Survivor Season One finalist, Rudy Boesch, led the parade of cars that got rolling at 1 PM. Some two hours later the last MINI was underway. 40 minutes later the group had covered 5.8 miles and set the record. Five miles of MINIs sounds like some kind of punchline, but it's an official Guiness-certified World Record now. Or at least it will be when the paperwork reaches Guinness World Record Headquarters in London next week.

There's an online album of pics from the event available by clicking here and a list of those involved who deserve credit after the jump.

Thanks for the tip, Max!

[Source: Motoring File]

Continue reading Another Guinness World Record: Longest Contiguous Line of MINIs


[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2009 Nissan Murano... except it's not

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Click on the photo for a high-res gallery of the Renault Koleos Concept

Spy photos taken during hot weather testing in Spain were widely circulated on the net yesterday and identified as the next generation Nissan Murano. However, a closer look at the photos reveals that this vehicle is in fact the production version of a vehicle that was shown by Renault at last fall's Paris Motor Show called the Koleos concept.

The Koleos is being developed by Renault in conjunction with Korean partner Samsung. It is expected to be produced by Samsung in 2008 for sale under both the Renault and Samsung brands.The platform was developed with Nissan and it would not be surprising to learn that it's shared with the Nissan Rogue, which was revealed in production form at the Detroit Auto Show last January.

[Source: The Car Connection, Renault]


[via] Autoblog

CarPool Kenny eases you into HOV lane the illegal way

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We're surprised that this gag can be retailed without disclaimers. Carpool Kenny is an inflatable head and torso that is marketed on the premise that you can cruise the carpool lane in passengerless peace, your inflatable pal offering impunity. People have tried this, and many have had their ruse detected. When you do eventually get hooked by the long arm of the law, it's going cost a lot more than this $20 useless hunk of plastic. Think hundreds.

Your odds of getting caught are likely rather high, since police officers tend to operate on the assumption that all is not what it seems, and Kenny looks so fake that he's just asking to get busted. Our own healthy sense of schadenfreude would kick into overdrive if we cruised by a schmuck who's bluff got called.

Using one of these things to circumvent the rules just means you'll bypass a jam and have to attend to being productive sooner than the rest of us left surfing for that mythical NPR station that's not fund-raising.

Thanks, Jason, for the tip.


[via] Autoblog